Disclaimer: I do not own Big Time Rush and I am not profiting from writing this story.
Chapter 1 - Band of Brothers
"Well, listeners, I hope you are safe and sound in your homes, listening to this broadcast, because we have one freak of a snowstorm raging outside. And to all those who are on the road, find shelter as soon as you can. Drive slowly, carefully, and get home safely 'cuz roads are closing at an alarming speed. Here's Trent Ward with a look the snowfall with this blizzard."
"James, can you turn down the radio, please?" Kendall asked, as he stared outside his window. His visibility was limited by the inches of snow covering his rear passenger window, and the free falling snow made it almost impossible to see anything beyond the thin glass anyway. Resting his head back against the seat, he was grateful for the silence. The radio report about the snowstorm began to unnerve the usually level headed leader, igniting in him an anxiety that was unknown to him. Unfortunately, the feeling of uneasiness could be felt throughout the entire car, taming the ever fun natured Carlos into a nervous mess. Even James, who always had something to say, was forced into silence. Stealing a glance toward the driver of the car, Kendall could only imagine that the slight anxiety he was experiencing was multiplied for Logan. Poor Logan, who had the unfortunate task of driving his four friends through a snowstorm, leaned over the steering wheel in hopes of seeing through the constant snowfall. He was unusually quiet and calm, which for anyone who really understood Logan, knew that was a troubling sign.
"This is one crazy snowstorm," Kendall said aloud, hoping to ease the tension that was beginning to drive him insane. However, it had little effect. Carlos continued to stare out of the window in terror and James barely mumbled an incomprehensible response. To his surprise, it was Logan who offered him any response.
"I really thought we could beat the storm," Logan whispered, regretfully.
The four members of Big Time Rush had been offered their first real vacation away from LA and the prying eyes of Gustavo and Mama Knight due to good behavior and hard work. As natives of Minnesota, they missed the thrills of skiing and snow and had easily voted to spend their five days off at a ski resort in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their days had been filled with fun on the slopes (with their numerous attempts at the fateful Devil's Drop trails) and their nights had been occupied by impromptu acapella jam sessions around the lodge fireplace surrounded by their fans. They had even been able to play a game of two on two hockey on a freshly frozen pond right outside the lodge, instantly reminding them of home. All in all, their vacation had been amazing.
But near the end of their trip, weather reports came out about an impending snowstorm that would possibly strand the lodgers. It had been Logan's idea to leave earlier than they had originally planned once word of the storm spread. In an attempt to get home before the first snowflake fell, they had agreed to leave a day early. However, as fate would have it, the blizzard of the century had other things in mind, taking a sharp turn and arriving earlier than predicted. Now, they were forced to endure these harsh weather conditions. It was clear from the look on Logan's face and the tone of his voice - the guilt of his decision was killing him.
"No one could have thought this would happen, Logan," James said, finally saying a full sentence in what seemed like miles. He placed a comforting hand on Logan's shoulder, hoping to stress the fact that fault didn't fall on him. "It's no one's fault but Mother Nature's."
"Yea, buddy, you're doing an awesome job," Kendall added from the back seat.
The words of encouragement worked. Logan's shoulders lowered in relaxation and his tight grip on the steering wheel loosened. As the inches of snow grew higher, feelings of self-doubt had started to creep their way into Logan's mind, breaking away at his confidence. However, hearing his friends believe in and trust him to get them home safely, a new found sense of purpose arose in him and he realized he couldn't let them down.
"Don't worry, guys. I'm going to get us home safely," Logan replied, his voice so confident that even Kendall had to believe that Logan would do whatever in his power to make sure they made it home safe and sound.
"You promise?" Carlos questioned, his voice barely louder than a whisper as he spoke for the first time in hours. Logan took a quick peek into the rear view mirror to look at Carlos's scared face.
"I promise," Logan answered with such conviction that Carlos felt a small smile tug at his lips as he too began to relax.
With that, the suffocating tension in the car was released and the four best friends returned to normal, the car filling up with sounds of jokes and laughter in a matter of minutes.
"Hey, I really thought I could do it!" James said, as he recounted his horrible attempt at dating two girls on the same night. He cringed as the moment the two girls found out the truth replayed in his mind. He absentmindedly readjusted his pants at the thought of the first degree burns he sustained on his inner thigh from the hot chocolate one of the girls poured on him.
"James, didn't you learn anything from Logan?" Carlos replied, laughing as he remembered Logan's try at double dating.
"Yea, but I'm a better liar than Logan."
"Hey, I resent that. I just don't like lying. Honesty is the best policy."
"Naw, you're just a really bad liar," Kendall quickly interjected. He was enjoying the playful banter; it was something so routine for them. They were able to forget about the raging snowstorm they were driving through and simply concentrate on something concrete like their friendship. Seeing James return back to his cool and lax personality, Carlos assume his air of childish enthusiasm, and Logan release the weight of the world off his shoulder, allowed Kendall to finally relax himself, albeit slightly. He wouldn't allow himself to fully succumb to relaxation until he and his friends were back at the Palm Woods, in their apartment 2J, on their large orange sofa with Mom and Katie. Nevertheless, hearing the back and forth comments from his three best friends, Kendall couldn't help but feel a little more closer to home.
"Come on, guys! When is lying ever a good thing?" Logan asked, still trying to prove his case for truth.
"When it's for a good cause like getting me a date with the two prettiest girls at a ski lodge?"
"Or getting fruit smackers for all at the Palm Woods?"
Logan could only stare straight ahead with a look of mock astonishment at their responses. "Can I at least get you to back me up, Kendall?"
"Sorry, Loges. While I don't agree with their examples, there are a few times when lying isn't that bad. I mean, it got us our amazing apartment right?"
"Unbelievable. My best friends are all liars. It's a good thing that Camille and I believe so much in honesty -"
"Yes! Pay up, James!" Kendall exclaimed in the background, hand extended over James's shoulder, awaiting his payment. "I told you he couldn't go the entire car ride without mentioning Camille."
"Wait, you guys bet on me? That's what our friendship has become?"
"Wow, James, I would have never made that bet," Carlos snickered in the back, as he dug into back pocket for his last pack of Fruit Smackers. He quickly opened the package and stuffed the contents into his mouth. Upon seeing the now empty wrapper, his giddiness was gone. "I'm out of Fruit Smackers."
"Ah-ha! You lose, Logie," James said, ready to make back what he lost from Kendall. "I knew Carlos would finish all 15 packs of Fruit Smackers before we made it home."
"Carlos! What did I tell you about rationing?"
"But I was hungry! I can't ration when I'm hungry."
"Yea, yea, yea. Here you go, James," Logan replied, as he carefully pulled out a ten from his front pocket to place into James' awaiting hand. He took another quick glance into the rear view mirror to look at Carlos, and any sense of anger was gone instantly, as Carlos mouthed, "I'm sorry" to him through the mirror.
Logan just sat back comfortably in the driver seat, marveling at the inner workings of his friends and the fact that they just worked so well together. There was no denying that each of them had their purpose in the friendship and that without any one of them, the whole thing would fall apart. He was just content in knowing that he would never have to find that fact out. Keeping his head straight, he distantly heard the words that were being exchanged between his three friends, but kept his mind solely on the road in front of him and maintaining a safe but steady speed. Unfortunately, the snowfall was now mixing with rain, worsening his visibility and forcing him to concentrate more on the road. In the distance he could make out the large outline of a destination sign. As he approached, he was relieved to see the sign read that they were merely five miles away from California. James also made note of the sign's inscription, as he let out a huge sigh of relief.
"Whew! Yes, five more miles until we're out of this horrible weather and back to sunny California," he said as he placed his sunglasses on top of his head like the clouds would open any minute to reveal the hidden sun.
"I hope that means we're close 'cuz after sitting in this seat for the last eight hours, my butt's starting to get numb from inadequate blood flow," Kendall replied, gently shifting in his seat to regain feeling to that sensitive area. He pretended not to see the stares he got from his friends as he enjoyed the feeling and continued to take the attention off himself. "So, Logan, use that calculator you call a brain and figure out just how long we have until we can get home."
"Well, if I maintain this speed through the rest of the drive, it could be maybe four hours. But calculating the change in weather conditions we will most likely experience when we reach California and the resulting change in speed, we could be back at the Palm Woods in three hours," Logan recited back, as if he had just been asked something simple like 2 plus 2.
"Awww man! Three hours?!" Carlos exclaimed, his voice full of panic. "I can't go three hours without any Fruit Smackers! I'll starve! I'll go hungry and die! I won't be able to make it! I'll -"
"Carlos! We still have the corn dogs in the cooler under the seats in the back," James cut in.
"Oh yea! Ok, I'll survive," Carlos replied.
James could only scoff at the entire exchange, but the knowledge that they could be home in a few hours did manage to bring a smile to his face. While the past several hours on the road had been tense and uneventful, he was happy to share these moments with his friends, enjoying their company and their time away from being Big Time Rush. While he loved the band and was thankful every day for this opportunity, he missed the times when they were just four hockey playing, trouble making best friends. And for the past five days they had been just that - emphasis on trouble making as he remembered the massive snowball fight they started at the lodge that resulted in everyone at the resort taking part. He cringed inwardly as he anticipated Gustavo's reaction to the impending bill for all the damages. James was pretty sure Gustavo would pop a blood vessel, but heck, he wouldn't take anything back.
The thought of their ill-tempered manager sparked an idea in James's mind.
"Hey guys, since we're almost home, we should probably run through a couple of the demos for the new CD Gustavo gave us before we left. Maybe it could get him in a good mood before he gets that bill from the ski lodge," James said as he searched the glove compartment for the CD case he had haphazardly threw in there upon their departure.
"Who knew a standing stuffed bear could cost $1200! It's not our fault that a snowball knocked it down and it fell into the lodge fireplace. It should have been securely placed," Kendal remarked, remembering the unbelievable prices that were on that bill. "But yea, you're right James. Being prepared for our session on Monday will definitely appease Gustavo."
As the other members of the group agreed, James inserted the CD in the player, and listened as Gustavo's voice sang a slow tempo love song. While hearing Gustavo sing about love would forever mar his mind, Logan couldn't help the feelings of longing that took over him as he paid attention to the words.
"Camille would love this song," he said without thinking.
"Ah, Logan! You're killing me!" Carlos yelled from the back seat, just as Kendall let out a victorious laugh.
"Pay up, Carlitos."
"I thought you said you would never take that bet?" James questioned.
"I didn't think he would say her name twice!" Carlos said, as he grumpily retrieved ten dollars from his back pocket to pay his dues.
"What can I say? I know Logan!" Kendall replied.
"Glad to see you can make a profit out of our friendship, Kendall," Logan replied, his voice filled with playful annoyance. "Now can we go back to practicing these demos?"
Three different sounding voices replied back their affirmation as they continued to listen to the track. Within a matter of minutes, pitches and harmonies were arranged and the car was filled with the boys singing. Their voices blended well together and complemented each others' strengths and weaknesses. While James's and Kendall's voices were rich and deep, Carlos and Logan added a soft and gentle tone that provided a lightness to the song. There was no denying that they just sounded beautiful together.
They had almost managed to finish practicing the first track, preparing for the final run through, when a bright light cut through the back windshield. Turning his head, Kendall saw a large grey van quickly approaching from behind. By the fast speed, Kendall could tell the driver was not paying any mind to the hazardous weather conditions, his tires cutting through the snow effortlessly. However, the haphazard driving definitely concerned Kendall.
"Uh, Logan..." Kendall said, turning his head back to face the driver, but one look at the rear view mirror, he could tell from Logan's eyes that he was already aware of the approaching vehicle.
"Yea, I see him, Kendall. Maybe he'll slow down once he gets closer and realizes the speed I'm driving," Logan replied, hoping his voice sounded more confident than he felt. The large van that was speeding up behind him fast was definitely unnerving him, but he couldn't let his friends see him crack. They had to believe that he was in control.
Stealing a glance at his car door mirror, James was alerted as well to the fellow driver's risky driving. He patiently waited for the van to slow, but as the distance between the two vehicles grew smaller and the van came closer, James realized a troubling fact.
"He's not slowing down, Logan."
Logan looked into the rear view mirror once again to see the headlights of the van dangerously close to the back of his car. He increased his speed slightly to distance himself from the obtrusive vehicle, aware of what the speed adjustment could do in the inclement weather. He watched the speedometer inch toward thirty-five mph, which was already ten mph over what was recommended in this weather, and tried to focus entirely on the road. However, the safe distance that he had achieved by speeding up didn't last long. Not even a minute later, the van resumed its previous position directly behind the smaller car.
"Logan, maybe you should -"
Whatever Kendall was about to say was cut off by the harsh sound of metal colliding, as the two cars made contact with each other. The occupants of the car screamed in surprise from the hard impact, which caused their bodies to jolt forward. Logan tightened his grip on the wheel to gain control of the car as it threatened to swerve from the push.
"What's happening?" Carlos exclaimed.
"Omigod! Omigod! He hit us! And he's still racing behind us! Is he crazy? Is he trying to kill us?" Logan shrieked, forgetting all about keeping his cool for his friends. A maniac with a large van just rear-ended them; that was ample reason to panic.
"What the hell is the matter with you?!" James shouted, his head sticking out this window. "Don't you see it's snowing? Slow down!"
"James! Logan! Relax guys," Kendall said, the ever-present voice of reason. He wouldn't admit it to his friends but, the moment that van made contact with the car, that uneasy feeling of anxiety returned. That unwelcomed sense of doubt for their safety and the fear that they wouldn't make it home resurfaced. "Logan, just speed up. He's obviously not going to slow down, so just increase your speed and keep a safe distance from the van."
Logan didn't like the mechanics of that plan. With the snowfall picking up again, Logan knew from chemistry that the water from the previous rain fall would turn to ice patches on the road now due to the rapid decrease in temperature. And, due to his many lessons in physics, he understood that an increase of speed on a surface that lacked a proper force of friction would result in an inability to properly stop the car. However, it was better than their current situation of being rear-ended by a crazed driver. He slowly increased the speed to forty, and waited to see if that had been enough of a change to distance them from the van. Unfortunately, the van continued to tailgate, and upon seeing the two bumpers about to touch once more, Logan softly pressed on the gas to increase the speed. His palms felt sweaty as he gripped the steering wheel, trying to maintain control of the vehicle on the snow covered road. It was getting difficult for him to maintain proper control at this rate; he could feel the tires whine in protest as the wheel told them one direction, but the slick ground pulled them toward another. He prayed that he could keep this up for as long as he needed, but when he looked at the mirror and saw the van remained in its previous position, he knew Kendall's plan would not be able to work.
"Kendall, he's going too fast. I can't keep the speed up, I'll lose control of the car if I go any faster. We need to figure out something -"
The car shook again as the van collided once more with the rear bumper, and again, Logan had to use every bit of concentration to keep the car from spinning out of control. While it skidded and the tires screeched in anguish, Logan was able to maintain his handle of the wheel and reorient the car.
"Stop it! Make it stop Kendall! Make it stop," Carlos cried, pulling his helmet lower onto his head in an attempt to cover his ears from the harsh sounds the collision caused. He didn't like the loud sounds, the shouting, and being flung around the seat every time the van hit the car. But he absolutely hated the suffocating fear that was slowly taking over him, the horrible choking feeling that threatened to overcome him. He hated to be afraid, never wanting to adopt the role of scaredy cat that he had been casted for ever since he was five. But at the moment, with a crazy driver repeatedly assaulting the back of their car, threatening their safety and their chance to make it home, Carlos could care less of the blubbering mess he was becoming. His breaths came in short gasps and he could feel his heart beat fast against his ribcage. He remembered other times when his fear reached these levels. He had always had his friends to help him control his breathing and utter soothing words to calm him down. But as he looked to his three best friends for help, he was scared to see that their faces matched his own and sadly realized they all were going to need soothing words to calm down.
"Oh God! Kendall, what the hell do I do?" Logan asked.
Kendall felt the air inside the car get thinner and thinner, finding it difficult to think coherently. He was vaguely aware of Logan saying words and could see his mouth moving from his seat in the back, however, the words didn't make any sense. How was Kendall supposed to know what to do? Logan was the smart one, he knew all the answers. How could Kendall make it stop? He wasn't in control of the van driver; he couldn't make it stop. Kendall soon felt his hold on reality slowly weaken, where he had been sure footed just moments before, now he stood on shaking and buckling legs. He wanted desperately to help his friends, to take away the looks of fear and panic that were preventing the laughs and happiness that were present mere minutes ago, but he didn't know how! And that fact frightened him. But he knew he would have to try something.
"Carlos, relax, buddy. It's gonna be okay. We're gonna be okay," Kendall said, grabbing a hold of his hand. While he doubted their well-being, he couldn't taint Carlos's innocence or naivete. He gave it a light squeeze and was relieved to see a slight smile on Carlos's face from the gesture. Not moving his hand away, he turned his attention to Logan. "Ok, Loges, I want you to move as far right as you can and let the van pass you on the left side."
"I-I can't! The road is too narrow; there's not enough space," Logan replied. Upon hearing Logan's words, Kendall leaned forward and surveyed the road. Just as Logan had described, they were advancing on a narrow stretch of road that only allowed one car to pass through clearly. While there was still space on either side of the vehicle, it would be extremely difficult for both cars to fit side by side. This was one of the few moments in their friendship that he wished Logan wasn't right as he let out a deep sigh of frustration. He could feel Logan's eyes on him through the rear view mirror, pleading with him to come up with a plan.
"We have to at least try. James, do me a favor. Look out your window while Logan moves the car over to the right side and let him know when he gets too close to the roadside," Kendall replied.
"Yea, ok, Kendall," James responded, eager to help in any way.
He quickly assumed a position that gave him the best look at the road side and encouraged Logan to keep moving the car, "You're good, a little bit more. Just a little bit more. Ok, stop!" He turned his head hoping to see the van take their invitation to pass them, but instead the driver remained in the center of the road as if oblivious to the open space available on the left side. "Why isn't he going?" James questioned, asking no one in particular, since he knew his friends were as clueless as he was.
Kendall could just look back in shock. He was out of ideas on how to get this crazed driver from tailing them. Opening his window, he leaned forward and moved his arms to the left in hopes of pushing the driver to go toward that direction, and yet, the van continued at its current speed and its current position. Kendall returned to his seat in utter amazement at the weirdness of the situation, unable to fully comprehend how they got themselves into this predicament.
"Don't worry, guys. Hopefully, we'll reach two way traffic soon, and we'll be able to free ourselves from this maniac driver. Carlos and I will keep a close eye of the van and make sure he doesn't get too close. If he does, we'll just tell you to speed up every now and then," Kendall said, hoping his voice didn't betray him. He needed his friends to believe in his plan even though he didn't believe it himself. "We're going to be just fine."
The words had barely left his mouth when his body was propelled forward into the passenger seat, as the van made contact with the car a third time. This time Logan, holding unto the wheel with so much force his knuckles turned white, was unable to keep the car from skidding. He turned the wheel and used all his muscles to adjust the car into a straight position. However, no matter which direction he turned, the car continued to skid. Logan tried everything in his power to stop the car, forgetting all about the large speeding vehicle behind him. All he wanted to do was end his friends screaming, to get rid of the sounds of terror that were escaping their mouths from this horrible nightmare. Yet, even that seemed impossible as he tried to gently press on the brake to no avail. The car seemed to have a mind of its own, no longer taking commands from the wheel. The tires screeched, the occupants screamed as all desperately waited for the moment when everything stopped.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, the car decreased its speed, as it skidded to a halt in the middle of the highway, perpendicular to the long stretch road. Everyone was silent, only their deep pants of breathe could be heard, as each tried to regain their composure. Whether it was shock or terror, no one wanted to say anything. They all remained lost in their thoughts trying to make sense out of what just happened.
"Is everyone ok?" Kendall asked, breaking the silence that had engulfed the car. The events of the last ten minutes still remained a mystery to him but the well-being of his friends was his number one priority.
"Yea... I think so," Logan answered, shakily. Turning his head to face Kendall, he stopped as he noticed James's blank stare toward him. "James, what's wrong?"
His mouth moved up and down as he struggled to produce any sound. Logan, assuming it was just a delayed reaction to the shock, prepared to question him further about whatever was troubling him. However, James was able to produce a single word in a voice so small and full of fear that forced Logan's question to die on his lips.
"Logan..." James whispered, as he pointed a finger in Logan's direction. Not at Logan, but past him. He followed James's line of vision to see the grey van speeding toward the small car. Logan had no time to process and register the information his eyes were sending his brain. The bright headlights of the fast approaching van heading straight for them paralyzed him and all he could do was stare back with wide eyes.
And then impact. The van rammed into the front end of the driver's side, sending the car into a tail spin toward the roadside. The horrible sound of metal colliding at high speed cut through the silence of the roadway. All four friends were flung back and forth, hitting whatever objects stood in their way to stop the momentum caused by the forceful collision. As the car continued its tailspin, all the occupants of the car were unaware of its final destination as it headed straight for the wooded trees.
The metal released a high pitch groan as the small car, crashed into a tall unsuspecting oak. The windshield imploded instantly sending dangerously large shards of glass into the car, showering the occupants. The front of the car was crushed, sending two feet of metal into the body of the car. The steering wheel and the dashboard became a jumbled mess, and Logan felt both crush into his body seconds before the air bag exploded into his face, rendering him unconscious. James felt a fiery hot pain erupt in his leg at the impact, so intense, he welcomed the darkness it brought and too lost consciousness. The sound of James's scream of anguish was unheard by Carlos, who was propelled forward out of his seat, forcing his head and nose to make direct contact with the driver's seat. He returned back to his seat, slumped over, knocked out and covered in blood. His body rested next to Kendall, whose entire right side slammed into his car door, sending a sharp, yet novel feeling to run down his right arm. The impact also caused his head to hit the rear passenger window, forming a spider web crack throughout the glass. Through fogged eyes, he saw his friends. He knew they needed him. But the pull of unconsciousness was too powerful, even for the strong minded Kendall, and he closed his eyes in defeat, surrendering to the darkness.
As quickly as the crash occurred, the road was silent once again. The snow continued to fall, and for everyone else, life returned to normal. But for the four members of Big Time Rush, each of them knocked out and oblivious to their injuries, life would never be the same again.